LOGAN -- Logan County school officials have hired a private investigator to look into the circumstances surrounding the suspension of a middle school student who wore a National Rifle Association T-shirt to school. Eighth-grader Jared Marcum received a one-day suspension last month for causing a disruption at the school. Allen Larieris has said his stepson was waiting in line in the school cafeteria when a teacher ordered him to remove the T-shirt or turn it inside out. WCHS-TV reported Thursday that school officials said in a news release that they took the unusual step of hiring an independent investigator to ensure a complete, objective evaluation of the situation. The move to hire an investigator was expected, as The Logan Banner reported last week.
No school board members were involved in the initial decision to suspend the student, Superintendent Wilma Zigmond said, and they became aware of the situation only after the case received significant publicity because the student and family members talked to the media. The investigator's report is expected soon. Marcum's lawyer, Ben White, has said school officials told him Marcum's one-day suspension was appropriate because he was being disruptive. White said Marcum was exercising his free speech rights and his support for the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. Zigmond noted that shirts that depict guns or promote the NRA are not expressly forbidden by school policy, and that several students have worn such shirts without incident. The policy does prohibit certain attire, such as those that promote drug, alcohol or tobacco products. Students are told they "'will not ignore or refuse to comply with directions or instructions given by school authorities,' in accordance with school policy,'' the release said. "What students are not permitted to do, however, is disrupt the educational process,'' Zigmond said. "That policy is in place to benefit everyone and ensure an appropriate learning environment for all Logan County students. I can say unequivocally that no student in our county has ever been suspended for wearing a T-shirt that promotes the NRA.''